The Two Blind Mice was a second rate inn, to put it generously. The floorboards loudly creaked, as rowdy laughter drifted up from the inn’s tavern. Pale yellow and brown stains marked the walls and the bedposts. And, true to its namesake, the place boasted a remarkable selection of rats, mice, and other vermin.
Fargrim snored loudly as Loup chewed happily on a mouse it had caught. The last week had taken its toll on the dwarf’s body. A proud Iron Wolf, he never hesitated to charge blindly into danger. But after his run-in with the Severed Eyes, he had more than a few war-wounds to show for it. A few broken ribs, a broken nose, and lost teeth only served to make the warrior seem more grizzled and venerable. Titles which the dwarf would’ve certainly been happy to be called. As his snores rattled the walls of his room, Loup finished his dinner and began to stalk another mouse that hid beneath an old sock.
Nathaniel shared a room with the dwarf, wondering how he had been talked into this sleeping arrangement. His diplomacy skills were so perfectly honed. Yet strangely, it seemed that lady luck didn’t shine on him much of late – unable to discern hidden meanings, identify magical equipment, or the nature of arcane mysteries. But today was the end of all that. He was certain that he was going to blow that Poetry Contest out of the water in two days. He just needed some inspiration. And Fargrim’s loud snoring would ensure that he’d have all night to divine some up. Nathaniel sighed and turned over in his bed.
Seraphina, meanwhile, enjoyed the sleep that only the Truly Righteous are able to enjoy. Her plate armor neatly placed in a corner of the room, she snuggled into the covers and smiled. Behind her eyelids flashed a vision of a bellowing, rage-filled drake, its breath hot and bile dripping from its jaws. With a heroic cry, the glowing red death of the Slaying Stone coursed through her body and poured forth in a torrent of righteous justice. Its fangs crashed into her flank, and as she winced in pain, the skeleton dissolved and fell around her feet. The image passed, and then she was in front of the old woman Treona and Kiris Alkirk. Alkirk looked her in the eye and asked “What really happened to my brother, m’lady?” Seraphina collected her courage and looked at the sad man and decided to do what none of her companions could do. She took a breath and confessed “Fargrim killed him.” Her face grew hot as she felt her friends hiss at her. But what choice did she have? An disciple of the Silver Flame cannot tell a lie. In her room in the Two Blind Mice, she sighed peacefully. Now thinking of the Vul’s plan to meet some scoundrel in the alley out behind the inn, Seraphina saw herself as the vanguard, and savior of this lost soul. If trouble should arise, her hammer would shatter the teeth of their foes, spreading vengeance like a wildfire. And afterward, Vul would come to her temple. Perhaps even see the light, as Seraphina had so many years ago. Yes, she thought, happily-ever-afters do happen.
But not for Vulpin Shadowless. He sat in a chair by the windowsill, his stomach in a knot. His eyes darted along the street, lost in thought. What the hell did Flick mean? Did Krill want him dead; did he have a big score he wanted Vul in on? Why the secrecy? Better to take a risk than wonder if he’d passed up a golden opportunity. He ran his tongue over his gold tooth and glanced at Lucan in his bed. Fool. Chasing after rumors and ramblings of a mad-woman when the chance for a big score might be right here. Oh well. More for me, he supposed. His eyes found their way back to the street and fidgeted uneasily. Soon now, he thought.
Lucan didn’t see any of this. But not because he was asleep – his racing mind would never let him truly rest. The haunting words of Treona swirled in his memory. What was she trying to tell him about Dreus? She’d said that Dreus’ touch was on Lucan, that he was influencing his actions somehow. Yet Lucan felt to taint of another mind on his own, no corruption to his state of mind. Did he? Was a power manipulating him somehow without him knowing it? He had to know more, and he felt fairly confident the Red Circle would have the answers he sought. Wouldn’t they? On second thought, he wasn’t so sure. He wasn’t sure of much these days. Much of his past was a fog to Lucan, and the past weeks had only succeeded in obscuring it even more. The others didn’t seem very interested in finding the answers, but the questions gnawed at Lucan. It felt deeper and more ominous than what met the eye. And as Vulpin strapped on his sword and laced up his boots to leave into the night, Lucan didn’t even notice.
A faint rap on the door to Seraphina’s room woke her from her peaceful slumber. Vul’s head slipped in and he whispered “You ready?”
“Just a minute,” she yawned, and slipped out of bed. Just her luck too. She was having the most terrific dream of re-living the battle with Krayd the Butcher. She was woken up right before she crushed the vile beast’s life-force out with her bare-hands.
“Hurry up. I don’t want to be late,” Vul said.
As Seraphina walked barefoot across the floor, a mouse skittered in front of her. In one swift movement, she crushed the thing beneath her heel. She smiled and thought “And may the same happen to all who stand before the heel of righteousness.”